Very, very obscure iOS7 tips, tricks and features

The new iOS7 home screen

After playing with iOS7 for a couple of days, I’ve found a few hidden gems buried in the code. Some of these are practical, some just for fun, and some are just, well, FLORM!

Bitch Mode (Siri-equipped models only)
To access Bitch Mode, tap twice anywhere on your home screen and yell “bitch!” The Siri interface will appear, with Siri inquiring, “What would you like to bitch about today?” Then just unload! Everything that’s pissing you off, just get it out. Scream it, shout it, whisper it, even rasp it in your bitched-out-until-you-can’t-take-it-anymore voice. No matter how petty, unjustified or mean-spirited your bitching is, Siri, in high resolution virtual empathy, will respond, “I know, right?”
Oblogatory rating: Essential

Spleen Grab
Admittedly, this is one of those “gee whiz” features with very little practical use and it is included mostly just to make Android users jealous—and to temporarily free them of their spleens. To access, hold your phone up for an Android user to see and pretend that you are showing off the home screen’s “slight, but totally noticeable and amazing 4D parallel reality effect.” While the Android user is occupied trying to see something he secretly believes he’s not cool enough to see, stealthily plunge your hand through his rib cage and pull out his spleen. When he becomes totally frustrated and gives up on trying to see the effect, casually ask, “So, how’s your lymphatic system feeling right about now?” Note: this feature will be locked, preventing you from further use until you give the guy his spleen back.
Oblogatory rating: Nice-to-have

Glinda Mode
Lost? Confused? Never fear, Glinda Mode is present at your location! To access, hold your phone to your heart (through your clothes and skin is fine), close your eyes, then click your heels three times while saying, “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” When you open your eyes, you should be back in Kansas! You’ll be in bed under the covers and in your nightgown, so if you tend to overheat easily, you may wish to disrobe before deploying Glinda Mode (though please exercise caution if you are in police custody at the time). Also, as you will awake with your loyal little dog beside you, I can’t recommend Glinda Mode for those with pet allergies. Sorry.
Oblogatory rating: Game changer

Perhaps the most esoteric and astounding of all the new iOS7 features, FLORM! is best used with extreme discretion. This is not something you can—or should—do all the time, though to fully understand all of its implications, you may wish to try it now as you read along with this little tutorial. To access, type F-L-O-R-M-! into your phone’s search field (yes, all caps), then tap return. I’ll wait.
Yeah, pretty amazing, huh?! As Siri might say, I know, right?! So cool! You can see why I warn people not to do it all the time—who could handle such extremes of joy and ecstasy? Though God knows I’ve pushed the FLORM! envelope a time or two these past couple of days.
Whew! Wow. FLORM. Yeah.
Oblogatory rating: Worth killing for


MacBook Pro fans spinning constantly? Might be time to reset the System Management Controller (SMC)


About six months ago I got a MacBook Pro with Retina Display and what’s not to love? But like the previous generation MacBook Pro I had, I notice every once in a while that the cooling fans spin all the time. Restarting doesn’t help.

When this first started happening with my last MBP, it seemed like maybe my machine was aging and had lost its ability to dissipate heat without running the fans all the time—kind of like MacBook menopause. But then it started happening on my new machine, too.

Lately, I’ve noticed that it’s triggered when I use an agency client’s Javascript-dependent web app. I hate using the app anyway, and this issue ain’t helping. But it does show that it is probably more software related than hardware related.

At any rate, a little hunting on Apple’s support site revealed it’s a known issue that can be solved by resetting something called the System Management Controller.

(Really, I’m just posting this so it’s easy for me to find this link when I need it, because I always forget how to do it.)

Support.Apple.Com: Intel-based Macs: Resetting the System Management Controller (SMC)

WTF is with iTunes 11 asking for consent EVERY time I open it?

EVERY time I open iTunes 11.0.2, I get this:

In case you aren’t wearing your readers, the text at lower left is asking me to either agree or not agree to share details about my music library with Apple so that they can download album cover art, and probably also infect my brain so that on some secret pre-determined date they can flip a switch and turn me into their robot slave. 

Up until now, I’ve always clicked “Agree.” The risk of turning into Apple’s robot slave is worth it to me so that I will see the cover art for for Johnny “Guitar” Watson: Best of the Funk Years when I am listening to “A Real Mother for Ya.” But the consent screen still came up every time I re-launched the app anyway.

In the interest of blog-a-listic inquiry, I just now tried clicking “No Thanks” to see if that would make it go away. Nope. It didn’t.

Ha ha! Apple made a mista-aake!

The most unbelievable Microsoft ad I've ever seen

OK, sorry for the really crappy photo of this print ad from yesterday’s NYT’s Magazine, but check out this two-page spread for the new Microsoft Surface:

Click to view larger crappy version

Notice something missing? Like a bunch of words? In fact, aside from the product and company names, there are only two words: right by the open blue Surface on the left page it says, “Click in.” 

That’s it. No asterisks, no legal footnotes. No third-party logos. Consumers are left to decode the ad for themselves, which is great.

I’ve worked on a bit of marketing stuff for this company. I don’t think it was easy for them to get here. As a reminder, check out this spot-on video from several years ago: 

Two annoying Apple UX errors

This ain’t no big deal, but it drives me a little nuts, plus it helps my self-esteem to point out the errors of a company that employs thousands of “geniuses.”

Basically, there are at least two instances where Apple software ignores checkbox preferences it offers me. The first is when Keynote starts up:

This is the tutorial window that I see every time I launch Keynote. Notice how the checkbox that says, “Show this window when Keynote opens” is NOT checked. Yet every time I launch the app, the window is shown. Annoying.

Even more annoying: ever since I “upgraded” to Mountain Lion, I’ve been having semi-frequent kernel panics that cause my MacBook Pro to restart. Each time it happens, it takes a looong time for the computer to boot up again. When it finally comes up, it presents me with a window that says, “Your computer did not shut down properly. (No duh.) Do you want to send a report to Apple?” Whether I do or don’t send the report, I’m next presented with this dialog box:

I always click “No Thanks” to this Big Brotherly offer. Notice how “Don’t ask me again” IS clicked? It doesn’t work. It ALWAYS asks me again. Double annoying. 

Now that I think of it, I think iTunes does the same thing when I tell it not to remind me that there’s a software upate I haven’t installed yet. 

It’s also weird that Apple would make some checkboxes a negative option (to get X, do NOT check Y), while some are positive options (to get X, DO check Y). 

So, Apple, you think you’re so great. Well, guess what? You’re not perfect. Nyah.


Apple must have real good Internets at their house

I just bought Logic Pro as an app store download. This is a program that probably would’ve come on five CD-ROMs back in the day. But now it’s a ginormous download.

I wasn’t in a hurry, because I figured it would take some hours. I came in the office to run the download before going to bed. That’s why this dialog box is kinda ironical.

As the download started up, I watched as the estimated dowload time started working it’s way down from 10-11 hours. It wasn’t until 10 minutes later, when it got to 7-8 hours, that I noticed that the text at the top of the dialog box mentions a fantasyland 1 hour estimated download time.

“Ha, ha! That’s stupid,” I said. “Stupid things make good blog posts.” And here we are.

BTW, now, about 10 minutes later, the progress bar estimate is at 4-5 hours.

So it’ll probably end up taking at least 3-4 hours when all is said and done, right? But I did some rough calculatin’ on Apple’s “this may take up to an hour with a typical broadband Internet connection” pipe dream/thigh slapper.

You’d need a sustained download speed of 555Mb/sec. to download 2GB in an hour. You’d need to be able to download the equivalent of 30 minutes of music per minute every minute for an hour. 

My Internets is not that good. 

Al Gore’s Internets is not that good.

BTW, now it’s back up to 5-6 hours.

My bite at the Apple: on Jobs's departure, iPhone 5's arrival


Fanboy-ism is not in my nature. I’ve always tried to stay out of PC vs. Mac debates, even though I personally don’t like using PCs very much. Mostly my ambivalence is based on the fact that I have no rooting interest in either side. Maybe if I owned investments that depended on one platform or the other “winning,” I would care. But I don’t. My success, security and happiness don’t depend on it and I can’t really affect the outcome one way or another, so it’s just not something I choose to waste my time on. 

Macs and PCs are just tools, and some tools are right for some situations and some for others. I have no problem with people using PCs and loving it. Hooray for them. HOWEVER, I have thought a lot about the Mac’s influence and impact on my life, especially during the past year since I’ve started my own business.

My business infrastructure consists of my brain and my Mac. That’s pretty much it. That’s what puts food on my table. The Mac and the software it runs are creativity enablers. Sure, there’s probably nothing I can do on my Mac that I can’t do on a PC. But back in the 80s, the Mac made it easier and less intimidating for me to learn how to use it, and my capabilities have advanced as the platform—hardware, OS and software—has advanced. Because just as I don’t tighten a nut just for the pleasure of using a wrench, I don’t do the kind of work I do just for the pleasure of using a Mac. I use a Mac because I want to make stuff that people need and which I have the skills to make, but which would be much more difficult for me to make any other way.

And it has had a huge positive impact on my life in all kinds of ways. Sometimes I wonder how things would’ve gone for me if I hadn’t had the Mac to channel my creativity into productive output. So, yeah, I’d say Apple products have had an outsized influence on me. And I’d guess that Steve Jobs and his insistence on developing human-centric innovation is more responsible for that than any other single person. So, thanks, Steve. 

iPhone 5 Prediction

In light of the transition at Apple, I started wondering what their next big market disrupter will be. (The iPhone, iPhone 4 and iPad were all market disrupters in my view.) Since the iPhone 5 is rumored to be their next big product launch, it’s the likely candidate. So I wondered what it could possibly do or enable that would be disruptive in the same way its predecessors were. And my money is on the e-wallet.  

I’m predicting that the iPhone 5 will get millions of people in the US used to and comfortable with the idea of exchanging money with their phones. All of the technology exists, but the concept hasn’t taken off in this country yet for a number of reasons. I’m betting that the iPhone 5 will change that. And look for Apple to make massive amounts of money from billions of teeny-tiny transaction fees and build a tough-to-overcome first-to-market dominance. Again. 

Hey, Apple—I want an iPhad


Sometimes my iPhone is too small and underpowered, but my iPad is too unwieldy and brings more horsepower to a task than it requires. For users like me, Apple needs to invent the iPhad.

This new device would offer me the best of both my iPhone and my iPad in a convenient new, “just right”-sized form factor.

The iPhad would feature the same OS as my iPhone and iPad, so it will be easy for me to learn and use. And then I’ll be able to buy the same apps in three different versions: phone, tablet and, um, phablet.

With it’s big (but not-too-big) display, and it’s small (but not-too-small) form factor, the iPhad would be the perfect way to keep Apple technology in my hand and plugged into my brain during those few remaining waking moments when I’m not using my iPhone, my iPad or my MacBook.

But mostly, I want Apple to bring this device to market so that when people stop and ask me, “Hey, is that an iPhone or an iPad,” I can reply, smugly, “Neither. It’s just a phad.”